Thursday, June 13, 2013

Twilight Warrior (TWILIGHT.WAD)

For awhile, Doom was perhaps the most realistic FPS kicking around, as laughable as that sounds. It was, though, and it's only natural that authors would try to manipulate the core aspects of Doom's gameplay in order to facilitate an experience even closer to conceptions of what a realistic first person shooter experience would  be. Two wild and crazy guys - "Ziggy" and "Sidearm Joe" - made a series of levels called Hostage Rescue that tried to emulate this experience, but their efforts came to a head in 1998 with the release of Twilight Warrior, published as Black Shadow Software with the aid of some other authors, some now quite famous in the Doom community. It's a ten-map episode for Doom II, originally designed to be played in what is  now an ancient version of the Legacy engine. Nowadays, any modern port that supports mouselook, jumping and DeHackEd should be able to run it.

Twilight Warrior wants to be realistic. To this end, there are no fantastic opponents in the game, just a bunch of camo-clad firearm-furnished thugs, terrorists, and enemy soldiers. Oh, and there are some dogs, culled from Wolf3D, plus a badass-looking helicopter that's easy to take down. Gameplay is thus heavily weighted toward hitscanner Hell, though really you're rarely exposed to tons of enemies. It's actually got kind of an OG Doom feel as your enemies typically wake up en masse and then fumble around, looking for you, peeking through building windows or over the tops of cubicle walls. Your opponents are engineered to look more clever than you'd think. Thankfully, the dudes fielding rocket launchers aren't as dangerous as they sound.

Your missions can either be easy, if you move carefully and make sure you have adequate cover as you eliminate your opposition, or pretty rough. Nearly everything shoots bullets and is staged in such a way as to punish you for reckless maneuvering, with enemies hidden behind crates or in the shadows or in places you really should mouselook to shoot first. On UV, at least, your margin for error is pretty low as there isn't a lot of health to cover up your mistakes. In the end, if you suck at it, Twilight Warrior may end up feeling more like Dragon's Lair with you memorizing enemy positions between deaths, which is as accurate a depiction of room clearing in real life as you'll get in Doom without coding the bullets to incapacitate you with a single hit. You can afford to move at your leisure, though. There's only one level with a time limit and it isn't so stringent that tactical movement is out of the question.

The levels are all independent. You get a gear loadout complete with armor at the map start and there are rarely if ever any appreciable secrets, the main exception being Joe Zona's "Golden Triangle". The gear works ridiculously well for experienced Doom players. The OICW (shotgun replacement) and H&K MP5 (chaingun replacement) will serve as your bread and butter in any mission you get them in and as they both use bullets you'll never be short for ammo. I rarely ever used the others, which include grenades, a flame thrower, and a sniper rifle. The DeHackEd in the sniper rifle may have worked when it was originally released in Legacy but it apparently only works in Eternity at the moment. I have pretty much no knowledge in source port wizardry so can't tell you why but it appears to be the fault of the DeHackEd code. You won't really need the sniper rifle, though. Mouselook and chaingun tapping are more than enough.

Pretty much all the levels have mission objectives, looking at the briefing .TXT that comes in the .ZIP, but due to the limitations of Doom they're basically exit switch levels, just arranged in such a manner that with a bit of imagination you can be engaged. Certain areas won't open up until you've explored sections of the level, with the walkover triggers feeling arcane in levels like "Embassy". There are also hostages and assassination targets. Killing either will end the level and move you on to the next mission, so completing hostage levels the intended way is the domain of the true Twilight Warrior. I believe Covert Ops - Twilight Warrior's Edge-based sequel / port - fixes this issue.

Actual mission variety is pretty cool. There are a few jungle-based levels where you fight your way to enemy compounds, a couple maps taking place on the interiors and exteriors of water-locked combat zones (a cargo ship and an oil rig), urban / mansion levels where you creep through city streets and buildings with open office-like arrangements, and some oddballs, like the plane-bound "Counter-Hijack" and the opening training level. The use of what are mostly stock Doom II textures throws the faux-reality off a tad but the authors have done an admirable job creating an evocative playground. I like the custom resources for the jungles, imported from Joe Zona's Real episode for Doom II.

For what it is, I think Twilight Warrior does a great job of bringing some semblance of realistic fighting to the Doom engine. It's not something I would play religiously but as a diversion it has enough hooks to keep the experience going. I hear that it's much more enjoyable in coop, a comment I readily believe as it should mitigate the biggest limiting factors; the lack of health isn't as important when you have two (or more) bodies running around and when tackling an objective together you can watch each others' backs, emphasizing the importance of tactical movement and engagement. It's not the prettiest or largest of level sets, but for those looking for a decidedly different Doom experience leaning toward the real, Twilight Warrior should suffice. I would say that it's definitely worth trying.

by Black Shadow Software

Killing RoomMAP01
by "Sidearm Joe"
A training map with a sniper range and claustrophobic killing floor filled with humanoid opponents. The sniping range is whatever; I liked the killing floor as while it's very dangerous with its pillared layout and mess of hitscanners, it's over very fast, which is pretty straightforward.

MAP02Golden Triangle
by Joe Zona
A pretty straightforward jungle crawl. There's a lot of foliage but it's thankfully easy to navigate. The worst parts of the level will involve picking through the walls of vines that cross your path when you can't really see enemies at a distance. The compound is decent but easy to clear as long as you remember to slay the tower guards. Putting a switch in every hut is...pretty boring. I suppose the real challenge is in not catching too many stray bullets with the few stimpacks that are scattered around. The chopper fight on the river is a cool finale.

Denied AreaMAP03
by "Sidearm Joe"
A bunch of shelled-out buildings in an urban area. It's pretty homely but as a special forces playground it gets the job done. There are a few precious stimpacks so try not to catch too many bullets while you're sneaking around corners. The weapons aren't very limiting; the OICW is plenty of power for the kind of skirmishing and room clearing that's part and parcel of this level. It may escape you if you don't read the briefing, so take note that the end goal is a hostage situation, which is precipitated by a blind drop behind a few doors you'll have to bust open.

MAP04Navy Seal
by "Sidearm Joe"
This level has a starting area in a little patrol boat with you swimming through the water to get to a larger carrier ship. The goal is to clear the latter as it's full of arms dealers and smugglers. It starts out with a very hectic opening as you clear the upper deck, weaving between wooden boxes and avoiding enemy fire from the handrails. Afterward you go down into the cabin and cargo area which is a very nasty place to be if you took much damage from earlier operations. There are a few dirty tricks where enemies silently file in behind you as you clear the six pack, but the low flashing lighting in the main hold takes the cake in terms of sheer disorientation. Take your time and make every hit count.

by Justin Madigan
This is essentially more room clearing, like that found in "Denied Area", but in a more concrete and enclosed location. This one takes place at a nondescript embassy. There are hostages in the level, but they're not essential to your victory and are more or less hazards that will either draw weapon fire from itchy trigger fingers or block your shots. There are a few major battle scenes; the biggest in my mind is the shootout over the fountain when crossing from the western side to the eastern. The level is thick with terrorists that do a great job of sneaking up on you with the silenced doors, so be on your toes or be dog food. Make sure you walk into every room before trying to exit.

MAP06North Sea Zone
by "Sidearm Joe"
"Navy Seal" in reverse; this time, you start out on the inside of what is in this case an oil rig and must fight your way out through by clearing rooms of terrorists. It's a bit more practical than the semi-realistic "Embassy" in that it only really features a mess hall and kitchen with the rest composed of large computer rooms that are actually pretty fun to fight in. The manic uncertainty of the levels is lost a bit, but fans of unwelcome surprises can have fun shooting at enemies behind ventilation grates. All in all, a nice romp.

by "Sidearm Joe"
Short and simple level...almost dead simple. Basically terrorists have taken a plane over with some hostages and it's your job to storm in and eliminate the enemies while not killing the terrorists. Because it's so short it's actually pretty easy; the terrorists end up tethered to the plane seats, for the most part, with the nastiest part by far being eliminating the terrorists in the cockpit as one of the hostages has a very good chance of interposing himself between you and your marks.

MAP08Maximum Prejudice
by Kurt Kesler
This is a large jungle level in the style of "Golden Triangle" but it plays a fair bit better due to the more natural layouts and a small compound at the end you'll have to clear out which feels much less repetitive than the camp that serves as MAP02's finale. It's actually an assassination level, where you're targeting a military dictator. The map is basically two winding jungle / rock areas that go from low to high where you need to look on the ground and the upper ledges. The base is pretty easy to take out but you need to visit the helicopter pad to get the dictator's little hideaway to open.

Immediate ActionMAP09
by "Sidearm Joe"
More room clearing a la MAP05 but in a more structured setting and, most importantly, a four-minute time limit. If the timer elapses, two hostages die. You're clearing a bank so that you can get to the vault and the hostages trapped within. The office areas are less than straightforward to clear so the lack of health pickups makes your ability to avoid hitscans paramount. Those dark side offices are the nastiest places, especially as terrorists have a bad habit of jumping up on the desks and popping you from over the cubicle walls. The time limit isn't bad at all but it encourages reckless play, which as mentioned is very dangerous.

MAP10Operation Phoenix
by Kurt Kesler
The big finale is a strenuous city crawl that takes the concept of "Denied Area" but runs it through Kesler's mapping brain to create an open gauntlet full of hostiles that you'll be taking as slowly as possible. "Phoenix" is one of the most dynamic levels, being open, featuring multiple tiers of play and hidey-holes for enemies as well as lots of nice architecture, though the emphasis on drab brown leaves the visuals feeling muted for most of it. There are no surprises as the enemies are the same as on any other mission, but it's the best example of a ruined city-style map contained in the set. It would feel a bit more tactical if the sniper rifle worked right but tapping with the pistol and MP5 is more than adequate and something pretty much any Doomer should be familiar with.


This post is part of a series on
Doomworld's Top 10 WADs of 1999

Batman DoomThe Darkening
Chord GJägermörder
Twilight WarriorDemonfear
Tei TengaHerian 2

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